E.B. White’s short trip to a childhood vacation spot resulted in the nostalgic essay “Once More to the Lake.” George Orwell’s years in Burma turned into the dramatic “Shooting an Elephant.” The success of the travel essay lies not in the length or distance of the journey, but in its emotionally truthful translation into language. A 112-day journey around the world won’t ensure exceptional writing, but it will provide the unique opportunity for the kinds of revelations that lie at the heart of a good essay. Pico Iyer once wrote, “All good trips are, like love, about being carried out of yourself and deposited in the midst of terror and wonder.” Good writing, too, transports the reader. Our job as essayists is to impose structure on our observations without eradicating the sense of wonder and surprise that compelled us to write in the first place. Through the reading of contemporary travel writing, honing our observation skills and practicing the art of writing itself, we will learn how to construct our own travel “love stories.” This is an advanced writing class – students should have a skillful command of language and are expected to put in the intensive work required to create original travel writing that makes intelligent, insightful observations and connections.
Field WorkCountry: Hawaii, United States
Day: 1 - Hilo - 17 January
To arm us with the observation, note taking, and journaling skills we’ll use throughout the trip, our field lab will take place at our first stop in Hawaii where we’ll practice immersion. After traveling 30 miles south of Hilo, Hawaii, we’ll arrive at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a World Heritage Site. We’ll begin our trip at Kilauea Visitor Center and then explore Crater Rim Drive, stopping at several places along the way to gather observations and complete writing assignments in our field journals. We will be outside and walking for much of the day, so be prepared with comfortable shoes and appropriate clothing. Weather can change very quickly at the National Park, so wear layers and bring rain gear. The park also recommends that you wear long, lightweight pants because falling on lava is like falling on glass. Additionally, bring lots of water and any snacks you might need. Academic Objectives:
- Practice Close Observation
- Practice Writing in the Field
- Gathering info for Honing Later